Two things stood between U.S. General William Sherman and Atlanta in the spring of 1864: Kennesaw Mountain and Confederate General Joseph Johnston’s Army of Tennessee.
Johnston, fighting a defensive campaign, slowed and frustrated Sherman as he tried to move south. Twenty miles northwest of Atlanta, Johnston set his army in a strong line along Kennesaw Mountain, forcing Sherman either to flank Johnston or hit him head on.
On June 27, Sherman sent his men on a desperate frontal assault against heavily fortified Confederate positions at a spot called “Dead Angle.” It was one of Sherman’s great tactical defeats: he took more than 3,000 U.S. casualties. The Confederate losses: 1,000.
Thirty-five years later, an Illinois veteran who fought there bought 60 acres of the battlefield and transferred it to the Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield Association, which eventually gave ownership to the federal government.
The scene of one of the Atlanta campaign’s bloodiest days was preserved when the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield site was created on February 8, 1917, Today in Georgia History.